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  1. Dean Pomerleau

    Discover Magazine Negative Blurb on CR

    Note - this is a post that IMO falls between the cracks of our current set of forums - its about CR (so I don't think belongs in "Chitchat"), but not about either CR Science directly or CR practice directly. I chose CR Practice since it talks mainly about how worthwhile it may be to practice CR... This month's issue of Discover Magazine has a section on healthy aging, and in it they have a blurb about CR - i.e. whether its worth pursuing for those who want to live a long and healthy life. Their basic conclusion is "don't count on it" - based largely on the mixed results from the NIA / Wisconsin primate studies. Here are some highlights (or lowlights) from the full text (paywall) of the discussion: Healthy Aging Claim: Can eating like a bird add years to your life? Don't count on it. Since the mid-20th century, researchers have noted that calorie-restricted lab animals live longer than their well-fed counterparts. Naturally, some self-proclaimed health gurus have seized on these studies as evidence that humans could reap the same benefits by slashing their food intake. That prospect has inspired calorie-restricted diets that feature arcane ingredients like brewer’s yeast and psyllium husk and may total less than 1,200 calories per day. Despite these dieters’ herculean efforts — forgoing dessert in favor of processed whey protein is a pretty drastic move — there’s still no solid evidence that slashing calories will extend human lives. Rats do live about 40 percent longer on a calorie-restricted regimen, and roundworms live up to 50 percent longer. But evidence is mixed in monkeys, whose responses presumably mimic ours. In a University of Wisconsin study published in 2014, older rhesus monkeys that ate spartan diets for years were less likely to die, while scientists at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) reported in 2012 that calorie-restricted rhesus monkeys lived about as long as those on a normal diet. Calorie restriction does seem to forestall aging, at least somewhat, on the cellular level. University of Washington researchers have found that a calorie-restricted diet reduces the activity of a cell-signaling protein called TOR-1 that may speed up cell aging. And scientists at Harvard Medical School, the NIA and elsewhere have shown that caloric restriction drives expression of proteins called sirtuins, which help promote cell survival. Such research may help scientists understand the mechanisms that underlie aging and identify promising drug candidates that mimic the health-promoting effects of caloric restriction, says NIA’s Felipe Sierra. Right now, though, “people are subjecting themselves to these very harsh regimes, [but] I don’t suggest anyone follow any of the leads that we have,” Sierra says. Essentially, caloric restriction involves a lot of pain for no sure gain. — ES You can't really fault the article's characterization of the scientific results on longevity, but the emphasis on the weirdness of the diet (whey protein - really!?) and its associated hardship is disappointing and largely misses the mark. Plus it totally ignores all the health improvements that CR practitioners enjoy, as demonstrated by research like that of Luigi Fontana. To age well, they endorse exercise, healthy eating & obesity avoidance, stress management, and drinking red wine. The last is particularly disappointing, since they cite resveratrol and its impact on the sirtuins as the evidence in favor of wine - despite the fact that CR (which they dismiss) has been shown to affect this same biochemical pathway much more dramatically than wine. Overall pretty disappointing, but par for the course in our culture. --Dean
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